Platform: PS3 (PSN, £15.99)
Developer: Gaijin Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
I'm told that there's nothing quite like the thrill hurtling towards the Earth at terminal velocity, and now we don't have to shell out for colourful adult babygrows and life insurance to experience it. Skydive: Proximity Flight brings the adrenaline rush of base jumping to the PlayStation Network, throwing you off mountains and hot air balloons with nothing save a wingsuit to slow your fall.
When played on a big television and through a decent sound system, you can practically feel the wind whistling through your teeth.
At its core, Skydive offers several expansive maps to scream through, your wingsuit providing you plenty of forward momentum as well as sickening vertical plunge. As you dodge through the gorgeously-rendered scenery by the skin of your teeth, finding new routes as you do so, you're awarded points for Proximity Flight: the nigh-suicidal art of practically touching your nose to the mountainside or treetops as you zoom over the terrain. Most of the joy of Skydive is simply gleaned from the raw joy of pushing your limits and seeing how the differing times of day and level design can affect your runs. Near the bottom, you'll also have to think about pulling your parachute too, that is if your knuckles aren't too white.
There's more to it, of course. A range of selectable Skydivers offer a range of stats that affect their speed and manoeuvrability, which factors into pulling off stunts and tricks during your descent. Though simple barrel rolls and flips, pulling them off takes a surprising amount of skill, and award you with points to throw at a simple star rating system and leaderboards. Competing with friends for high scores and attempting (unsuccessfully) to crush the leaderboard-toppers can become another addictive draw.
You'll spend most of your time ogling the visuals and revelling in the sense of speed, though. Once you activate first-person view, especially if you have a 3DTV, you'll find little else like it outside of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! For The Awesome, flight sims or some of the best moments from Just Cause 2 when you're messing about at high altitude. Sensational visuals for a downloadable title and superb blur effects make for a seriously wild ride, and one that's likely to attract a fair few onlookers around your telly. It's a shame they can't take part, though - more on that later.
Skydive is a motion control title, supporting both Sixaxis tilt and dual PlayStation Move control schemes. No, don't run away. It's okay. It works. The latter is a fun diversion if you happen to have a couple of the under-utilised peripherals gathering dust somewhere, but a DualShock is more than enough to guide your intrepid fall guy with an impressive degree of accuracy, at least depending on the stats of your chosen skydiver. There were moments when I missed the precision of a good old-fashioned thumbstick, of course, but the motion controls help to differentiate Skydive in gameplay terms.
The thrill never gets old, and that's a good thing too, because Skydive is arguably much more impressive as an arcade falling simulator than a £15.99 game.
Considering its premium digital price, Skydive comes across as just a little bit flimsy. Beyond the Freestyle mode that chucks you off a mountain and lets you choose your own way down, which is disappointingly bereft of secrets and unlockables to uncover through multiple runs, you've basically just got a straightforward challenge mode that pushes you through floating rings and a race gametype. These score-attack runs can be addictive, but they eventually lose their appeal after the umpteenth attempt and don't pack much in the way of meaningful progression. A more robust unlock system might have been nice, too, as well as some more outlandish characters to control beyond a couple of 'silly' throwaway options.
The lack of synchronous multiplayer also feels like a tragically missed opportunity. I rarely mark down games for not including multiplayer (in fact, I've only done so twice before), but here it sticks out like a sore thumb. The fun of racing a friend to the bottom of a slope, directly competing for points or even collaborating on two-player stunts would have been fantastic -- either locally or online -- and would have also helped to fully justify the price tag. Asynchronous competition against ghosts and leaderboards is all well and good, but it should have been the icing on the cake rather than the be-all-and-end-all of Skydive's competitive offering.
For many players, the undeniable adrenaline rush will and should be enough. There are few games that manage to so brilliantly capture the primal enjoyment of falling very quickly, and make it fun, while 3DTV owners will also have a superb new showcase for their pricey hardware. While we wait for a full sequel to AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! For The Awesome, that is.
- Sensational visuals and sense of speed
- Hugely exhilarating, especially in first person view - worth the price of admission
- Functional motion controls (and impressive stereoscopic 3D if you have the technology)
- Underwhelming selection of game modes and unlockables for £15.99
- Sorely lacks synchronous multiplayer
- Feels a bit pricey, frankly
The Short Version: Skydive: Proximity Flight gives us an adrenaline-soaked taste of the raw thrill of base jumping on the safety of our sofas. Though the thrilling gameplay and impressive visuals arguably deserved more robust progression and infrastructure, you'll come for the score attack and stay for the white knuckle ride.
That said, a sale might not go amiss.